Provinces Told to Plan for Opening

Lee Sang Yong  |  2013-10-01 23:20
The Kim Jong Eun regime has ordered provincial administrations to submit proposals for limited opening of cities in their remits, Daily NK has learned. The results are intended to be similar in nature to the Special Economic Zone at Rasun in the far northeast of the country. Legal and systemic amendments are also allegedly being reviewed.

A source from North Hamkyung Province and another from Yangkang Province reported the news to Daily NK on the 1st. The North Hamkyung Province source explained, “Since last week each province has been drawing up a proposal for submission to the Upper. The proposals include two cities where it is thought possible to attract foreign enterprise. Of late, the Marshal (Kim Jong Eun) has been calling in Central and provincial Party economic officials and ordering them to review locations in every province that could be run like the Rasun Special Economic Zone.”

According to the source, this means that 18 cities from across North Korea’s nine provinces are being put forward as candidates to become “Open Cities.” It can be assumed that the plan is premised on foreign capital and technology being attracted to provincial areas of North Korea by the country’s literate labor force. Foreign businesses will be expected to control management and production issues, while the North Korean authorities control personnel matters. Telling provinces to select two cities each is set to incite competition between provinces.

“It’s not clear what cities will be developed, or from when," the source said. "However, this was handed down by the Marshal, so that means that the Upper has already chosen the basic directive, doesn’t it?”

The source further emphasized that the North Korean authorities “are simultaneously reviewing legal and systemic modifications to make it possible to attract foreign investment from places like China.” However, he mused, “Provincial economic cadres have almost no experience, so they’ll probably draw up their proposals after looking at the Kaesong Industrial Complex.”

“Basically, half the profit that the businesses make will go to them, and half to our country. That being said, depending on the provisions of the contracts it may be that the foreign companies will only have to pay wages and land use fees,” he added. “The core of this plan is luring foreign investment. The state will probably give quite a lot of freedom to the foreign companies and not really interfere."

Bringing the conversation back to the source’s local region, he went on, “If two cities in North Hamkyung Province were under review, of course Chongjin would be one of them, and the cadres in Musan and Hoiryeong would be competing to get second place. The two will be clashing, with the one side saying ‘Hoiryeong is the hometown of the Mother (Kim Jong Il’s birth mother), so it won’t do to develop there,’ while the cadres from Hoiryeong will say, ‘There is nothing in Musan but mines, so what’s the point of doing it there?’”

Elsewhere, the source from northerly Yangkang Province gave a detailed report of the current atmosphere in that area, saying, “Cities on the border can also be put into the proposals. Rumor has it that the Marshal said we ought to ‘do this so well that those dirty traitors [defectors] in the embrace of the puppet conservative gang will be filled with regret.'”

The same source added also, “The people releasing the news, and ordinary people too, are now anticipating the next step, saying ‘Won’t this mean that the market will be even more open?’” Finally, he emphasized that local Chinese-Korean traders, who have the most freedom to cross the Sino-North Korean border, are watching with particular interest to see which cities will be opened up for business.
 
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2014.09.15
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